Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Reading Comprehension Worksheets
History of Mathematics
Ahmes and Angles - Egyptian Mathematics

History of Mathematics
History of Mathematics

Ahmes and Angles - Egyptian Mathematics
Print Ahmes and Angles - Egyptian Mathematics Reading Comprehension

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   10.41

     challenging words:    bent-over, capstone, gold-tipped, triangulation, understanding, ponderous, scribes, scribe, emmer, theorem, redrawn, manuscript, gatherers, mathematics, pinpoint, geometry
     content words:    Rhind Papyrus, British Museum, Central America, Nile River, Great Pyramid

Ahmes and Angles - Egyptian Mathematics
By Colleen Messina

1     In the 1850s, a man named Mr. Rhind bought an amazing papyrus manuscript. A scribe named Ahmes, the Moonborn, wrote the manuscript in 1575 B.C., and it contains most of what we now know about Egyptian mathematics. The manuscript describes the Egyptian number system, the Egyptian use of fractions to divide rations of bread and beer among the workers, and geometric calculations. The Rhind Papyrus hangs in the British Museum in London, and it is one of the oldest mathematical documents in the world. Although it is hard to pinpoint exact dates for ancient cultures, the Egyptians' civilization thrived from about 4000 B.C. to 500 B.C., and they made many strides in the development of mathematics.
2     Mathematics had come a long way since the hunters and gatherers first figured out the lunar cycle. The Egyptians developed a system of writing called hieroglyphics that used pictures to represent words and numbers, but they still had no zero in their numerical system. A papyrus leaf represented the number 1; bent-over papyrus leaf represented 10; a coiled rope represented 100; and the sacred lotus flower represented 1,000 (Egyptians believed that a god who appeared from a lotus created the world). Animals represented the larger Egyptian numbers; a snake represented 10,000, and a tadpole was the symbol for 100,000. A figure of a scribe represented the number 1 million, so the scribes were pleased! Repeating the symbols created larger numbers. For example, three coiled ropes meant 300.
3     Scribes like Ahmes learned to read and write, but many Egyptian children did not attend school. If the future scribes complained about school, they had to listen to a list of the problems that faced other professions. Metalworkers supposedly choked on smoke from the furnaces, and weavers had cramped places to work. School was challenging and the teachers were strict, but the young people had some fun learning about numbers through games. They learned how to use numbers for practical things, such as counting household goods, organizing soldiers in the army, and keeping track of taxes. They also learned calculations to help with farming.
4     Farming was one of the most important jobs in ancient Egypt because farmers had to produce food for everyone. Egyptian farmers needed a more precise calendar. At first, they still used the lunar calendar to plan their farming, but since this calendar had only 360 days (12 cycles of 30 days,) they had to add days to remain in harmony with the seasons. The Egyptians replaced their lunar calendar with the first solar calendar in approximately 2772 B.C. This calendar was 365 days long, the actual time it takes the earth to orbit the sun. Across the globe, in Central America, the Mayan civilization also developed a solar calendar.
5     Egyptian farmers had other challenges that led to better methods of measurement. Each year the Nile River flooded, leaving behind a stretch of fertile land where the Egyptians grew their crops of barley and emmer wheat. Therefore, each year the boundaries of the fields had to be accurately redrawn. Egyptian surveyors or "rope stretchers" used lengths of ropes with equally spaced knots tied in them to measure land boundaries. When two fields bordered one another, the rope stretchers had to measure a right angle to form the corners of the fields. The establishment of boundaries was also important because the area of the land determined the amount of taxes, and the scribes kept the accounts for taxation.

Paragraphs 6 to 11:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable

Weekly Reading Books

          Create Weekly Reading Books

Prepare for an entire week at once!

Feedback on Ahmes and Angles - Egyptian Mathematics
Leave your feedback on Ahmes and Angles - Egyptian Mathematics  (use this link if you found an error in the story)

History of Mathematics
             History of Mathematics

More Lessons
             High School Reading Comprehensions and High School Reading Lessons

Social Studies
             Social Studies

    United States History and Theme Units  
    American Government  
    Ancient America  
    Ancient China  
    Ancient Egypt  
    Ancient Greece  
    Ancient India  
    Ancient Mesopotamia  
    Ancient Rome  
    Canadian Theme Unit  
    Country Theme Units  
    Crime and Terrorism  
    European History: 1600s-1800s  
    Famous Educators  
    Grades 2-3 Social Studies Wendy's World Series  
    History of Books and Writing  
    History of Mathematics  
    How Can I Help?  
    Inventors and Inventions  
    Middle Ages  
    World Religion  
    World War I  
    World War II  
    World Wonders  

Copyright © 2017 edHelper